NBA Summer League 2017: Standouts first half of Las Vegas
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NBA Summer League 2017: Standouts from Las Vegas Through Three Games

Dennis Smith Jr., mavs

The NBA Summer League 2017 enters the final stretch in Las Vegas with the playoff tournament beginning today at the Thomas & Mack and Cox Pavilion arenas. Playoffs are great for witnessing top prospects compete, but the NBA Summer League is more about young players getting experience and developing.

Top 2017 NBA Draft picks Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball have already missed games as a precautionary measure after injuries, but lesser known players usually make a name for themselves at the Summer League anyways.

Which players shined in the first half of the Las Vegas Summer League?  Who should continue shining through the rest of the week and weekend?

Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs

With the Spurs trying to keep Manu Ginobli from retirement and Jonathon Simmons from free agency, Bryn Forbes has made his case for rotation minutes on the wing during his time in Las Vegas.

Forbes was already the first Spurs undrafted rookie to play in at least 30 games. Now, he is building on that momentum in the Summer League. Forbes is averaging 29.3 points on 44 percent shooting in 30.7 minutes per game. This makes him the leading scorer in Las Vegas.

His best performance includes a 35-point outing in a 101-91 victory over the 76ers. Forbes shot a perfect 17-of-17 from the free throw line in his first two games too.

The second-year pro had another 35-point outing versus the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. He made six three-pointers in that outing.

The Michigan State-alum averaged 2.6 points in the 2017 regular season but he is quietly making a name for himself in Vegas.¬†Not to mention, the Spurs are 2-1 through three games thanks to Forbes’ scoring.

John Collins, Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks big John Collins is also making a name for himself in Vegas. The 2017 No. 19 overall pick has big shoes to fill with Dwight Howard shipped out of town. The 19-year-old Wake Forest product is showing that he could potentially fill that void as the star in Atlanta.

After three games in Las Vegas, Collins ranks No. 3 in rebounding by averaging 10.7 rebounds per contest. Collins is also averaging 15.0 points, 0.7 blocks, 1.0 assist and 1.3 steals per game for the Hawks. He is also nearly shooting 60 percent in the summer league.

Collins’ signature performance came in a victory over the Bulls. He registered 15 points and 11 rebounds. Atlanta also held 2017 No. 7 overall pick Lauri Markkanen to 1-of-13 from the field.

Plus, Collins had a 22-point and 11-rebound performance versus the Hornets on Day 3 of the Las Vegas Summer League. It should be interesting to see what other strides Collins makes through the Vegas playoffs.

First, the ninth-seeded Hawks will play the 24th-seeded Pelicans in the opening round of the tournament.

Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks

The No. 9 overall pick Dennis Smith Jr. got buried by some of the other more notable point guards in this NBA Draft class. However, Smith is making a name for himself in the Las Vegas Summer League.

This Dallas Mavericks rookie is averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 assists in three games. On Tuesday, Smith Jr. registered 16 points and five assists in a win over the Heat.

The 19-year-old scored 25 points against the Phoenix Suns. He also chipped in eight rebounds and four assists with No. 4 pick Josh Jackson as his primary defender.

Moreover, the Mavericks enter Wednesday’s tournament undefeated.

Smith’s performance in Vegas is critical as he has¬†a minutes battle versus last year’s rookie Yogi Ferrell and veteran Seth Curry. The N.C. State product can keep showing he is NBA ready with more breakout performances in the second half of the Vegas Summer League.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

The Celtics‘ No. 3 overall pick is easing anyone’s concerns about Boston trading out of the No. 1 spot. During his time in Vegas, Jayson Tatum has averaged 17.7 points on 42 percent shooting in 32 minutes per game. Tatum has also registered 8.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.

Tatum had 15 points in a 88-83 win over the 76ers. Yes, No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz sat out that game. However, Tatum also registered 27 points and 11 rebounds in a 86-81 victory over the Lakers and No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball. Tatum proved that he is just as NBA-ready as those top players.

Not to mention, the Duke product has looked comfortable running the floor and being a leader in Vegas. It seems like he is getting some chemistry with last year’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown and the rest of his young Celtics teammates. Maybe, this is because Tatum also played in the Orlando Summer League earlier this summer.

Either way, Tatum will have to keep it up to earn minutes on a stacked Boston team. The Celtics are the sixth seed in Wednesday’s tournament.

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

The No. 14 pick of the 2017 Draft Bam Adebayo has also looked good in his debut with the Miami Heat. The former Kentucky big is averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.7 steals in 29 minutes per game.

Adebayo added 18 points and 10 rebounds in a close win over the Spurs on Saturday. He also had 13 points and nine rebounds in a loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday.

Accounts say that Adebayo has moved well and frustrated other teams with presence in the paint. The Heat will take what they can get from the lottery pick as Miami looks to make a return to the post season.

Honorable Mentions

Plenty of players also made a name for themselves during the first half of the 2017 Las Vegas NBA Summer League.

Kings rookies De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson started hot with 18-point performances. Fox is averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Jackson is averaging 12.7 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Marquese Chriss and Josh Jackson have also been stars for the Suns in Vegas. Chriss is averaging 19.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in his second summer league. Jackson averages 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal for the Suns.

The Clippers have had Brice Johnson and Sindarius Thornwell leading the way. Johnson only played three games last season as a rookie, but he is averaging 14.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in three Vegas appearances. Thornwell is averaging 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 1.7 steals for L.A.

Otherwise, the Utah Jazz got a 37-point outing from rookie Donovan Mitchell. The 13th pick might help the Jazz fill the scoring void left by Gordon Hayward.

Plus, UNLV alum and Warriors forward Patrick McCaw is lighting up Vegas again. His high-energy defense is again on display but he is also averaging 18.0 points per game this summer.

The Hawks have also gotten some good performances from DeAndre Bembry. The 2016 first-round selection is averaging 18.3 points, 3.3 steals, 4.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds in Las Vegas.

Ultimately, it is impossible to see how the summer league translates to success in the regular season. Even though many Rookie of the Year winners have played in Las Vegas, many busts have too. Some have been good while other have been bad during the Summer League.

Either way, it is also better for NBA teams to see results from their young players. It should be fun to see what these standouts do in the playoff portion of the Las Vegas Summer League. The NBA Summer League 2017 concludes on Monday, July 17, in Las Vegas.